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The promoters of these products promise traders a way to beat the market by arbitraging prices between different exchanges. Don’t believe the hype. Bitcoin exchanges often have expensive withdrawal processes and hefty fees for trading bitcoin with fiat currencies, such as dollars or euros. Also, settlement of bitcoin trades can take hours. These factors will eliminate any profits from bitcoin arbitrage and may even lead to losses.
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There are two "types" of bitcoin -- Quanto and Inverse. Vast majority of bitcoin futures contracts are INVERSE, not Quanto. This means that the PNL is smoothed in USD terms, so that the contract value is maintained through price fluctuations. Put simply, it allows you to make a perfect USD-value hedge when you short with Bitcoin, which makes it ideal for speculators and hedgers. This means that if the BTC/USD value drops 1% you will earn more raw BTC than if it increases 1%. This is because when the price is falling, the USD value of the BTC is also falling, so the payout mathematically adjusts for this and increases as the price falls, compensating for the reduced USD value.
Assume it is January 3, 2015. Bob and Ann both want to trade at Bitcoin Futures Exchange (BFE). BFE offers 3 different contracts: one expiring and settling on Friday January 9 ('weekly'), another expiring Friday January 16th ('biweekly'), and finally one expiring in March 27 ('quarterly'). Each contract is worth 1 bitcoin notionally. BFE has a policy that traders have to put 20% of margin down to enter a trade, so Bob and Ann deposit 0.2btc to their BFE accounts as they only want to trade 1 contract.
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Mathematically, to regain a 50% loss you need the price to rise 100% (double) so don’t let yourself get there. Psychologically, you force yourself to trade to make up for the losses, and under pressure, you won’t make the best decisions. Cut losses early and re-evaluate your reasons for the trade, go back in later on, at a lower price if needed. Don’t take profits early, wait for a drop – this is a good enough place to close the trade
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Note that you could just keep bitcoin on CryptoFacilities waiting to make the trade so you don't have to wait to move the bitcoin you bought over. This is called see-saw arbitrage model, where you keep funds on both exchanges to avoid having to wait. This is fine, but you can't ignore that there is extra capital being used in the play, so it affects your rate of return and capital utilisation. We will not use this method, we will do a full, complete, legitimate arbitrage process.